Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
“Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
I was talking with a young person recently about their desire to seek ordination to the priesthood. I encouraged them to pray and talk with family and listen to their heart. Afterwards I thought about all the challenges one faces on the road to being ordained, and the challenges that arise there after. To serve God is to follow an uncertain road, with many twists and turns. And blessings in abundance also. There is no soft and constant security in this life, but rather the giving up of self to God and trusting completely for the days ahead.
Jesus was at the height of his popularity. Word had spread how he was healing and feeding people and everyone wanted some. Jesus cautioned them that God's love was free but a life of faith came with a cost. There was no glamor or stardom to be found but rather a daily uncertain road of sacrifice and service. We are inclined to want a comfortable life with little risk and less challenge. God invites us to understand that with great blessings come great challenges and hardships and the life of a disciple is the life of a pilgrim, a seeker - the life of one who leaves everything behind to follow God.
Today I ask God to renew my strength so that I might follow with new enthusiasm and joy. May we who have the privilege to follow be filled with grace and love. May we remember the many showers of blessings and count ourselves rich to be a disciple. May we deny ourselves daily so that God's love might spread through the world.